The man appointed by U.S. Catholic bishops to fight the church's battle against marriage equality called Wednesday for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Speaking in New Orleans at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' summer meeting, San Francisco's Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone rejected calls from some priests to move on from the issue and instead seemed to double down.
In his report to his fellow bishops, Cordileone, head of the bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, said the nation finds itself at a "critical point," according to the National Catholic Reporter.
"An amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the only remedy in law against judicial activism," he said.
Cordileone is scheduled to speak at a rally in Washington, D.C., next week to protest same-sex marriage, raising the ire of lawmakers in his home state.
California's Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, San Francisco mayor Ed Lee, and over 70 other lawmakers and civic leaders wrote a letter urging Cordileone to skip his appearance at the National Organization for Marriage's rally next Thursday in Washington.
"We respect freedom of religion and understand that you oppose civil marriage for same-sex couples," the letter says. "But the actions and rhetoric of NOM, and those of the event's speakers and co-sponsors, fundamentally contradict Christian belief in the fundamental human dignity of all people."
"Sadly," it concludes, "the actions of NOM and its invited speakers push us farther apart rather than bringing us together. We ask that you will reconsider your participation and join us in seeking to promote reconciliation rather than division and hatred."
Further, a petition circulated by Faithful America has collected over 18,000 signatures asking Cordileone to skip the event. "We need to make it clear to Archbishop Cordileone that encouraging bigotry is unacceptable, regardless of his position on marriage for same-sex couples," the petition says.
The National Organization for Marriage says its June 19 march is a "a clarion call to the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress, as well as the mainstream media, that America stands for marriage as the union of one man and one woman." Other speakers include former U.S. senator Rick Santorum and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
Same-sex couples have the right to marry in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
The Catholic bishops will devote another session of their three-day meeting to marriage issues, with a presentation from the director of the University of Virginia'a National Marriage Project.